CTE For Real

VI. Effective Advisory Committees

Florida Eight Areas of Focus
  FL#1–Program Design
  FL#2–Curriculum and Instruction
  FL#3–Professional Development
  FL#4–Student Support

OVAE 10 Component Framework
  OVAE#1–Legislation and Policies
  OVAE#3–Professional Development
  OVAE#4–Accountability and Evaluation Systems
  OVAE#5–College and Career Readiness Standards
  OVAE#6–Course Sequences
  OVAE#7–Credit Transfer Agreements
  OVAE#8–Guidance Counseling and Academic Advisement
  OVAE#9–Teaching and Learning Strategies
  OVAE#10–Technical Skills Assessments
The full engagement of employers is essential to the success of Career Pathways programs. In most cases, the engagement of employers takes the form of service on advisory committees—groups of employers and employees who advise educators on the design, development, implementation, evaluation, maintenance, and revision of Career Pathway programs. Most secondary and postsecondary career and technical education programs have business and industry advisory committees. You may be able to connect with these groups. Please refer to section III, "Partnership Development," for a list of the partners needed and how those partners might become involved. Regardless of how your advisory committee is structured, business and industry leaders will be the key to success for your AECP system.


The advisory committee will benefit your program by advising in the following areas:


Which pathway; exit points and entrance points on the academic ladder
Development and Implementation
Curriculum development; skills needed in the workplace including essential skills
Supplies, professional development; workbased learning opportunities, career development
Graduates, program effectiveness
Stackable credentials, modification of existing curriculum; emerging occupations


  Resource 6.1 lists areas of expertise that a business advisory committee might provide, along with examples and a space for your partnership to list other ideas.



Officers, working closely with educators, can save time for faculty and administrators, and it is strongly recommended that you establish officers early in the formation of your committee.



Each partnership and/or business advisory committee will need to decide its own structure.


  Use Resource 6.2 for discussion of the structure of your committee.


  Use Resource 6.3 to plan the roles and responsibilities of your officers.


Selection of Chairperson

The chairperson should be from business/industry. The two main roles of the chair are to set meeting agendas and conduct meetings.



  Use Resource 6.4 to rate potential candidates for the position of chairperson.


Selection of Business Members

Advisory committees should consist primarily of employers who are well positioned to stay informed about changes in their industries. Will they be hiring the completers of your program (i.e., are they your customers)? Are they knowledgeable about the skill requirements? Do they want to help your institution or partnership? The answers to these questions will help you determine which businesspersons should be approached to be part of your committee.


  Use Resource 6.5 to rate potential business members.


Other Members

Even though the majority of committee members should be from business and industry, the program will benefit from the involvement of educators as non-voting, consulting members. The following educational representatives should be present to receive advice and answer questions:
  • Adult educators
  • Secondary and postsecondary technical instructors
  • Administrators
  • Counselors
  • General education (academic) faculty
Former students should be on your advisory committee only if they are actively working in the industry.


  Use Resource 6.6 to inventory nonvoting or consulting members by job classification.


Terms of Office

Each advisory committee should establish its own criteria and guidelines for member recruitment, selection, appointment, and replacement. Committee membership should be reviewed and updated yearly to ensure broad-based representation of the industry and to ensure that the work of the committee continues. The following figure provides sample criteria for establishing terms of office.



  Use Resource 6.7 to develop criteria for officers' terms of office.


Requests to and Confirmation and Orientation of New Members

A formal letter requesting membership should be sent only after an informal face-to-face meeting or phone conversation discussing the potential member's contribution to and role on the advisory committee.


   Resource 6.8 is a sample letter requesting membership.


   Resource 6.9 is a sample letter releasing membership.


The committee's success will depend to a large extent on how well members understand their roles at the first meeting they attend. All members should be regularly provided with information relative to the committee's purpose, function, structure, and goals as expressed in the committee's work plan. New business members need to understand the following:



  Use Resource 6.10 to list items to be included in orientation of new members.


Formalizing Structure

Each advisory committee should develop and approve guidelines for operating procedures, or bylaws. Collectively, bylaws constitute a formal, written description of how the committee operates.


  See Resource 6.11A for sample bylaws.


  Use Resource 6.11B to formalize the structure of your committee.



Communication with members will occur in both:
  • formal settings and
  • informal settings.
  Use Resource 6.12 to list ways you might communicate with your members.


Advisory committees should strive to streamline meetings. Business members will balk and drop out if they perceive that you are wasting their time. Providing materials for review in advance can ensure that meeting time is reserved for important discussions and decision-making. Tours and lectures should not be scheduled during regular meetings.


  Use Resource 6.13 to list ways to streamline your meetings.



Meeting discussions should focus on the agenda, and every attempt should be made to involve each member. Time should be allowed for discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of the program. The committee chair should be able to draw on the expertise of every committee member and not let any individual dominate the discussion.


The committee should establish meeting ground rules. These rules could include the following:
  • Encourage everyone to participate equally.
  • Share ideas freely.
  • Provide constructive suggestions rather than negative criticisms.
  • Stay on track and on time.
  • Be concise.


  Use Resource 6.14 to develop ground rules for your meetings.


Effective Meetings

Well-organized meetings add to the advisory committee's effectiveness. Busy committee members are more likely to remain involved when their time is used well.


  Use Resource 6.15 to evaluate the effectiveness of your meetings.


Structure of Meetings

Committee meetings should involve an orderly, predictable process with respect to frequency, times, locations, and length, as shown in the following figure.



Organized meetings are one of the keys to a successful advisory committee. Establishing a meeting schedule at the beginning of the academic year will allow committee members to plan their calendars accordingly.


  Use Resource 6.16 to plan your meeting schedule for the year.


The following graphic shows the steps that should be taken in communicating with members about meetings, before and after.



   Resource 6.17 is a sample "save the date" notice.


   Resource 6.18 is a sample invitation letter.


   Resource 6.19 is a sample thank you letter to participants.


   Resource 6.20 is a sample thank you letter to non-participants.


  Use Resource 6.21 to help you track meeting correspondence.


Meeting Agenda

Agenda topics will be dictated by the program of work, but sample agenda topics could include:
  • Academic preparation of the adult learner
  • Labor market trends
  • Impacts of federal and state legislation
  • Emerging fields and potential new courses and programs
  • Curriculum development (academic, technical, and essential skills)
  • Instructional development
  • Facilities requirements
  • Recruitment of students
  • Marketing of programs and completers
  • Work performance of graduates
  • Program review processes and outcomes
  • Equipment
  • Staff development for instructors


   Resource 6.22 lists sample agenda items and provides a sample agenda.


Meeting Minutes: It's a Process

All advisory committees and subcommittee meetings must have written minutes. Minutes are the official record of the committee's activities. They help members understand the group's progress, concerns, decisions, and actions. Copies of all agendas and past meeting minutes should be on record with the secretary and department head and/or on the advisory committee's or educational institution's website.




Date of Meeting:

Members present: (List)

Members absent: (List)

Others present: (List)

Call to order—Committee Chair Keith Johnson called the meeting to order at 7:00 a.m. and expressed appreciation for attendance and participation. Johnson stressed the importance of the committee's continuing support and assistance on developing career ladders with industry recognized credentials. Dr. Jane Doe, College President, greeted the committee. She stressed the college's work in the addition of more certifications.

Minutes—Minutes of the last meeting were approved as submitted.

Unfinished business—No unfinished business was brought before the committee.

New business—Chair Johnson asked the committee to make suggestions concerning "What entry-level certifications are needed by industry?" Ben Martinez indicated that a computer background would be helpful for employees. Eva Johnson further emphasized the need for computer training. She indicated that a job applicant with computer knowledge has an advantage. It was the consensus of the committee that expanded computer training should be added to the program as soon as possible. The chair was asked to appoint a subcommittee to investigate several kinds of computers and software for possible purchase. It was agreed that the subcommittee would report to the committee at the next meeting.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 8:15 a.m.

______________________, Secretary



   Resource 6.23 is a template for taking meeting minutes.


Other Communication Strategies

Advisory committees should create communication channels that help to maintain close employer-educator relationships that go beyond those established through formal meetings. The ability of the committee to make decisions during meetings will depend to a large extent on how well the members communicate between meetings.


Communication Strategies
Strategy Description Characteristics Uses
Impact documents One-page snapshots that keep the committee updated on current events Informal; compact, typically one page, shared through email or posted on website Internal press releases (example: Resource 6.24B); updates on new activities, processes, and/or results
Periodic highlights These are one-page summaries of major activities and accomplishments during a specific time period. The person who writes the highlights should be careful in distinguishing between confirmed results and anticipated or projected results. Typically one-page; covers a time period (month or semester) Summary of major activities or accomplishment
Annual report
(See Resource 6.24A for a sample.)
The report does not need to be lengthy. Information from the periodic highlights can be used as the basis for the annual report. Be sure to include general student outcome data (how many students are in the pathway, how many graduated, etc.). Concise information on significant program and committee accomplishments Disseminate to members and the community
Newsletters Impact documents such as periodic highlights and annual reports can be distributed in the form of newsletters. Assembly and layout of the newsletters could be assigned as student projects



  Use Resource 6.25 to develop communication strategies for your committee.


Using Technology for Communication

Most people conduct meetings as the prime way to communicate because a face-to-face meeting is comfortable for them, but that method may not be the best for using the committee's time wisely. Listed below are some categories and descriptions of some connective technologies that you might consider using in communicating with your advisory committee.


Using Technology for Communication
Technology Description Examples
Blogs A blog is an online journal that you share with other people. People can post entries and others can read, write, or edit this journal. You can develop a blog for your existing website or there are several sites that offer free blog hosting. www.blogger.com
Collaborating and file sharing Allows you to create and share your work online. Applications include documents, spreadsheets and presentations. You can upload from and save to your desktop, edit anytime and from anywhere, and choose who can access your documents. www.google.com
Groups and listservs/email The Internet provides a fast and efficient medium for communication between committee members and for committee management. Groups allow groups of people have discussions about common interests. Groups can discuss, upload, and share files. www.groups.google.com
Meeting schedulers and invitations A meeting schedule is an online productivity tool that allows you to arrange and schedule meetings (and other events). Usually the tool sends out invitations to participants proposing times; summarizes their responses; updates you on the results; sends confirmations and reminders prior to meetings. www.doodle.com
Online surveys, polls, and registrations You can create and publish customized surveys in a short amount of time. You send out invitations to the survey via email and the participants can go online to take the survey. Services allow you to collect, sort, and analyze the responds. This would be an excellent tool to survey your business partners on hiring trends, skills need, or just about anything related to information that you need from them. www.surveygizmo.com
www.google.com (Google Docs and Forms)
Podcasting Podcast is a buzzword to describe downloading audio or video files from the Internet to a portable device (IPod or MP3 player). You might wish to video a meeting or a workshop so that others who could not attend can see it in a podcast form. www.mypodcast.com
RSS news feeds RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It's an easy way for you to keep up with news and information that's important to you, and helps you avoid the conventional methods of browsing or searching for information on websites. www.feedforall.com
Social networks A social network site is an online community of people who have a common interest. Your advisory committee could build a profile (who, what, where, why) and then share files, have a discussion, and even have subgroups (subcommittees). www.facebook.com
Teleconference Teleconference is a telephone between participants in two or more locations. Teleconferences are similar to telephone calls, but they can expand discussion to more than two people. This works well for small subcommittee meetings. www.instantconference.com
Text messaging Texting is the common term for sending a brief text message over cell phones. This would be a great way to remind someone of a meeting on the day of the meeting. Individual cell phone plans
Video sharing/video blogging Allows you to post and download videos. www.youtube.com
Web conferencing or videoconferencing and VOIP Web conferencing tools allow you to meet online rather than in a conference room. A webinar is a neologism to describe a specific type of web conference. It is typically one-way, from the speaker to the audience with limited audience interaction, such as in a webcast. A webinar can be collaborative and include polling and question-and-answer sessions to allow full participation between the audience and the presenter. VOIP technology allows you to make telephone calls over the Internet (converts voice signals into data streams that are sent over the Internet and converted back to audio by the recipient's computer). www.icom.com
Website If the program has a link on the institution's website, the committee should be able to make good use of it. Ideally, it would provide at least two links:

Public access link—This link would lead the viewer to information that is of interest to the public, such as general information on the program and the activities of the committee.

"Committee members only" link—This link would provide a connection point for committee and subcommittee members. This is the equivalent of the "back office" area reserved (by password protection) exclusively for authorized personnel.
(Google Sites)
Check with your institution
Wikis A wiki is basically a website that allows everyone who registers to add and change content. The most common wiki application is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia. Wikis are easy to use as all you need is a computer, a web browser, and an Internet connection—no software, no website skills—to begin having very interactive communications with many people simultaneously. www.wikispaces.com



  Use Resource 6.26 to brainstorm how your committee will show appreciation.


Planning a Program of Work

The committee should develop a plan of work to accomplish its goals. The following graphic illustrates the steps in planning a program of work.



Program of Work Categories and Examples



  Use Resource 6.27 to develop objectives for your committee's program of work.


It is common to assign subcommittees to program-of-work categories or objectives.


  Use Resource 6.28 to develop objectives for your subcommittees' program(s) of work.



Evaluation is a key component for continuous improvement. You may wish to evaluate not only the program that the committee is serving but the performance of the committee itself.



Career Pathways review—The ultimate measure of the effectiveness of the pathway is its ability to place highly qualified graduates into the workforce. Evaluation data that should be examined includes the following:
  • Transitions from AE to postsecondary within the particular career pathway
  • Student academic performance
  • Retention rates
  • Program completion rates
  • Workforce placement rates
Advisory committee performance—The effectiveness of the committee is determined mainly by determining whether the objectives set out in the program of work have been met.


An evaluation can help the committee determine:
  • Whether the program is accomplishing its goals.

  • The extent to which the program of work has strengthened the career pathway.

  • What recommendations should be, or have been, acted upon, and what the implications of those recommendations are.

  • The future direction and program of work for the committee.


  Use Resource 6.29 to assess your program of work.


In addition to assessing the program of work, advisory committees should make sure the management of their committees is not a barrier to success. The two key components of any successful advisory committee are effective people and effective processes.




   Resource 6.30 is a self-evaluation tool.


Reviving Stagnant Advisory Committees

Much of this section has focused on the development of new committees, but many of you may have existing committees that are not operating at peak performance. The following graphic shows some of the reasons that may be happening.


Help—No one comes to meetings!


   Use Resource 6.31 for frank discussion on why the committee may not be operating optimally.


Perhaps you have the right players but no one seems to know what to do.


   Resource 6.32 lists questions to bring to the table for earnest conversation.


Member Appreciation

Rewards and recognition are especially important to advisory committees because members are not paid for their efforts. One of the best rewards is to ask for advice and respond to it. The following graphic suggests ways to say thank you.



  Use Resource 6.33 to brainstorm how your committee will show appreciation.



Establishing an advisory committee is only the first step. To be effective, the committee must become and remain active, and that involves setting and reaching goals and objectives.



The biggest sustainability factor for any committee is empowerment. You empower your committee by carrying out the following tasks:



Recommendations and Feedback

The end product of all advisory committee activities is a set of recommendations for continuous improvement of the program. Many advisory committees write a formal recommendation letter that is signed by the committee chair on behalf of the entire committee. Feedback on the recommendations is the most important motivational tool for advisory committees. Members want to do the "right thing" and are encouraged when they see tangible results from their recommendations.